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December 6, 2022
Ithaca, NY | 39°F

Opinion

Editorial: Celebration at All-College Gathering is unfitting

On Feb. 1, La Jerne Cornish, interim president of Ithaca College, facilitated an All-College Gathering for students, staff and faculty. Some attended in person at Emerson Suites. But many others joined via livestream only to hear the administration treat another All-College Gathering as a moment of unabashed celebration while exchanging fixed formalities and unironic niceties. 

The college’s small victories should be acknowledged, like this semester’s check-in process going smoothly, yielding only 18 positive cases, but the college community is hardly at a place for celebration. Many students, staff and current faculty members are still mourning the ongoing elimination of 116 full-time equivalent faculty and friends. The positive spin on every college update shared during the meeting was jarring to sit through amid a steady pandemic and the college’s ever fragile financial state and interim presidential status. 

Tim Downs, vice president of Finance and Administration, expanded on the update of the college’s financial health he gave in October 2021, offering a forward look to where the college will be trending over the next several years, along with visual data and graphs. While the presentation made logical sense and the class numbers will remain impacted due to COVID-19, it is hard to gauge if the four goals shared by Laurie Koehler, vice president for Marketing and Enrollment, will be sufficient in impacting enrollment: recruitment shield and retention, strengthening yield and retention, raising awareness of our distinctive quality, and enhancing alumni and donor quality engagement. “Last year, we yielded 11% of the students we admitted,” Koehler said. What will change from last year to this year? How will students, staff and faculty be kept in the loop during this process?  

Perhaps the most disappointing moment during the meeting was the celebration of the new School of Music, Theater and Dance with only a brief acknowledgement by Interim Provost Melanie Stein as “lots of behind the scenes stuff.” We must slow down and give way to the underbelly of this merging process.

“I just wanted to acknowledge that this very unglamorous, somewhat painful but very necessary work is ongoing. Many people have been involved. Faculty, department chairs, staff, administrators. So thanks to everybody, it is important for our institution,” Stein said. Words are empty if not met with action. How will the administration prove that this “unglamorous” process cannot be resolved with a glamorized celebration of hurried change? 

 

The Ithacan can be reached at ithacan@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @IthacanOnline